The Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe for training camp on Friday and the team will take the field on Saturday. Here is a look at four key training camp battles that will take place over the coming weeks on the offensive side of the football.
Justin Brown versus Darrius Heyward-Bey versus Derek Moye
The Steelers are almost certain to keep at least five wide receivers on their 53 man roster out of training camp this year and that means Brown, Heyward-Bey and Moye will all be battling for at least one spot. Last year, Moye beat out Brown, but so far this offseason, it has been the latter of the two that seems to have the upper hand heading into training camp. Heyward-Bey’s saving graces include his blazing speed, experience and potential as a gunner. Working against him, however, is his hands, as he’s dropped more than his fair share of passes since coming into the league. The Steelers could very well wind up keeping two of these three players, so you can see that this battle should be an entertaining one.
Guy Whimper versus Wesley Johnson
Seven spots on the Steelers offensive line are all but spoken for. Should the team decide to keep eight in total like they did last season, Johnson, one of two fifth-round draft picks this year, will have to beat out the veteran Whimper for the last spot. In order to do just that, Johnson will have to show that he can play not only both of the guard spots, but right tackle as well. He might even get a chance to play some center late in preseason games to show his position flexibility. Whimper will be tough to knock off of the roster and it’s also possible that both he and Johnson are kept.
David Paulson versus Michael Palmer versus Rob Blanchflower
The Steelers are almost certain to keep at least three tight ends and a total of four is not entirely out of the question. Paulson is holding on by a thread due to his poor play last year that resulted in Palmer passing him on the depth late in the season. In order to stick one more season, the Steelers former seventh-round draft pick must make huge improvements in his run blocking during training camp. As for Blanchflower, the Steelers seventh-round draft pick this year, he has to show that he can not only stay healthy, but be a contributor on special teams. He has the most upside of the three as an all-around tight end, but has to show it over the coming weeks.
Alvester Alexander versus Miguel Maysonet versus Tauren Poole
While there’s no guarantee that any of these three running back will make the final 53 man roster due to numbers kept at the position, there’s a good chance that one of them will land on the practice squad should that wind up being the case. Alexander figures to have the upper hand in this battle due to him being a fixture on the practice squad last season, but that’s where his advantage ends.